The report (http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/docs/NPSVSE2012_final_nrss.pdf) finds that Minnesota’s five NPS units in 2012 drew more than 600,000 visitors who spent more than $34 million, supporting more than 500 jobs in the state. Voyageurs National Park alone drew more than 200,000 visitors who spent $16 million.
Nationwide, national parks generated $26.75 billion in economic activity and supported 243,000 jobs in 2012.
There’s more. The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/fhw11-mn.pdf) found that in 2011, 2.5 million residents and nonresidents hunted, fished or watched wildlife in Minnesota, spending $3.9 billion on trip-related costs, equipment purchases and other items. The survey estimates that in 2011, Americans spent $145 billion on related gear, trips, licenses, land acquisition or leases, and other purchases, representing about one percent of America’s gross domestic product.
Conservation doesn’t impede the economy – it helps drive it. That’s something to remember the next time someone argues that jobs and protecting natural resources are opposing values. The facts say otherwise.